The Eli Manning of Soccer (or Something)

Slate's Culture Blog
June 23 2010 3:07 PM

The Eli Manning of Soccer (or Something)

The U.S. soccer team owes its victory over Algeria today in large part to a phenomenal 50-yard throw by starting goalie Tim Howard. The toss, which landed at the feet of Landon Donovan in the 91st minute, sparked a breathtaking sequence that ended when Donovan tucked the ball into the corner of the net. (Check out the highlight reel on this page .) A few minutes earlier, Howard had let loose an even longer throw that nearly gave the United States a similar golden opportunity.

After the game, I scoured YouTube for some other examples of great goalie throws. But the only thing I could find were some great bloopers. There's this one , in which the goalie throws the ball into his own net. Then there's this one , in which the goalie throws the ball off the back of a teammate's head. But there are no real highlights. Is it possible that Howard's Hail Mary to Donovan was the best goalie throw of all time?

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It very well may be. And despite the fact that it won't be viewed millions of times on YouTube this week, like say, Cristiano Ronaldo's circus-act goal against North Korea might, Howard's throw was a huge reason why the United States finished atop its World Cup group and is moving on to the round of 16.

It's days like these that make me happy many American soccer players were weaned on football, not fútbol

The June 14 issue of Sports Illustrated featured a roundtable interview with all three U.S. goalies, in which they were asked why American keepers were better than England's.

"People say it's because we grow up playing basketball and baseball and American football," backup Marcus Hahnemann said. "Guys in England play cricket, so they get some hand-eye coordination, but watch them try to throw an American football and you realize they don't quite have it."

As John Madden might say of Howard: You talk about a guy who can throw the fútbol .

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